The men’s soccer team made a spirited run in the A-10 tournament last week. The Rams won their quarterfinal and semifinal matchups before eventually falling to Fordham University in penalty kicks in the championship game.
The fifth-seeded Rams began their march with a 2-1 overtime victory over the University of Massachusetts at Amherst on Thursday.
VCU senior midfielder Brandon Eaton equalized in the 89th minute, sending the Rams into overtime. Senior forward Jorge Herranz scored a goal from 30-yards out in the last few minutes of overtime to send the Rams to the semifinals. Herranz is second on the team with six goals on the season.
VCU outshot the Minutemen by an astounding 19-3 margin. They held UMass without a shot in both the second half and overtime periods.
“First off, all credit to UMass who are one of the most well coached teams we have seen,” said head coach Dave Giffard “They played their hearts out and fought for 99 minutes. We got contributions from a ton of people. That’s what we will need to have a chance to do it again tomorrow against an excellent Dayton team.”
On Thursday, VCU defeated Dayton 1-0 on a 28th minute goal from redshirt senior midfielder Dakota Barnathan.
Thanks to tough VCU defense and a clutch save by junior goalkeeper Pierre Gardan in the 89th minute, the Rams held off Dayton to secure the victory. Redshirt junior midfielder Luc Fatton notched his 16th point of the season on the assist to Barnathan in the 28th minute.
The Rams outshot the Flyers by a 9-5 margin, with eight of those shots coming in the first half. The clean sheet marked the fifth one of the season for Gardan, who made two saves on the day.
The win sent VCU to their second consecutive A-10 tournament final on Sunday afternoon against the second-seeded Fordham Rams.. Previous to the win, the Black and Gold had last their last two meetings with the Flyers, including last year’s championship.
It took all of regulation, overtime, and penalty kicks for the A-10 champion to be decided, but Fordham’s sophomore goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu was the difference for the ‘other’ Rams, as they won 3-2 in penalty kicks.
Fordham had an early scoring opportunity on a header from just outside the six-yard box, but Gardan stood tall and made the save by his fingertips. Later in the half, VCU emerged and played a dangerous ball into the box but it was frantically cleared by the Fordham defense.
Each team recorded 12 fouls and two saves on the match, while VCU held a slight 11-10 shot advantage. Fordham took a slight advantage with seven corner kicks to VCU’s four.
Eaton led the way with six total shots on net, while Herranz grabbed two.
VCU was the first to shoot in penalty kicks, and junior defender Steven Dal Molin converted. Fordham equalized and made it 1-1.
VCU’s next two kicks were stopped by Nuhu and Fordham managed to convert one of them, giving them a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth kickers.
Redshirt junior midfielder Greg Boehme tied things at 2-2, giving the Black and Gold a new restored sense of hope but Fordham’s fourth kicker put them back on top to make it 3-2. VCU’s fate rested on the shoulders of redshirt-sophomore midfielder Eli Lockaby, but his attempt was also saved, giving Fordham the win.
“Our players played their hearts out not just this week, but all season long,” Giffard said. “This time of year, games have to be decided somehow and unfortunately sometimes they go to penalties.
We say goodbye to a tremendous group of seniors who have left their mark on VCU and on our program. However, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. We have a very strong group of returners and will get back to work right away to make sure that we get to play deeper into the postseason next fall.”
Gabe is a junior majoring in print/online journalism with a general business minor. Along with writing for the CT, he also doubles as the editor of Rams Review, a student-run blog covering VCU sports. Gabe primarily enjoys writing about sports and someday hopes to grace the halls at ESPN. You can usually find Gabe waiting in line at Chipotle, playing FIFA at his apartment, or quoting “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
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